While breathing is something we know how to do at birth, most of us have picked up some really bad habits along the way. Let us try a little experiment, take a deep breath. Are you breathing upward, vertically? Breathing this way causes your auxiliary muscles to kick in, rather than the primary breathing muscles around the midsection, which activate your core.
My physical therapist recently noticed my dysfunctional breathing patterns and told me to read the book Breathing for Warriors by Dr. Belisa Varanich and Brain Sabin. The book goes into depth about the benefits of improving your breathing technique and how it affects your performance.
Horizontal breathing uses the muscle in your body made for breathing, the diaphragm, and allows you to expand out, filling the biggest part of your lungs with air. This diaphragmatic breathing helps with decreasing stress levels, lowers your heart rate, improves core muscle stability, and improves your ability to tolerate intense exercise.
Breathing for Warriors was filled with exercises to improve breathing, but here are some of the key highlights for maximizing recovery between sprints or sets:
- Think about expanding your ribcage versus raising your shoulders when your breath (Horizontal Breathing)
- During hard efforts use nose and mouth breathing to steady your inhalation rate
- Look out into the distance to keep your airway open and maintain focus on your breathing pattern
- If you are breathing rapidly, rather than continuing to try to slow your breath, take two more huge breaths
- Pause on exhale, lengthen each exhale
So, get out there and get breathing and see if it makes a difference in your workout and recovery!